A Texas congressman has filed legislation intended to award the Medal of Honor to the late Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL sniper and author of the memoire "American Sniper."
Kyle, who has been credited with the most confirmed kills in U.S. military history, was murdered along with a friend two years ago at a gun range by a veteran who was convicted this month. Kyle's story was also told in the Hollywood Blockbuster "American Sniper" that earned an Oscar nomination.
"There is no doubt that this true American hero is worthy of our nation's highest military honor," Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, said in a statement after riling the bill Feb. 26. "While the Medal of Honor will not bring back a husband, father, son and a model Texan, we owe Chris Kyle and his family a great deal of gratitude for his relentless devotion to his country."
The military credits Kyle with 160 confirmed kills, out of 255 claimed.
The "The Chris Kyle Medal of Honor Act," which is co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was sent to the House Armed Services Committee for consideration.
Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were gunned down by Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine. A Texas jury on Feb. 24 rejected defense claims that Routh was insane when he shot the men and found him guilty of capital murder. He has been sentenced to life without parole.
Williams had wanted to introduce his bill earlier, but waited until after the trial to avoid any perception he was trying to influence the results, his office told Military.com.
Kyle's fame has also grown since his book was turned into a film by Clint Eastwood, with A-list actor Bradley Cooper portraying Kyle. The movie has broken box office records and been praised by many as providing an accurate depiction of an American service member in war and its aftermath.
Williams said in his statement announcing his bill that Kyle "gave the ultimate sacrifice and served his nation with distinction and bravery while saving countless American lives."
Williams' legislation, even if it passes, could only ask the Department of Defense to consider bestowing the nation's highest honor on Kyle. Congress has no role in determining who receives any of the service branches' awards and decorations.
The House Armed Services Committee is also considering legislation filed by Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisconsin, to award the Medal of Honor to retired Army Lt. Col. James Magellas for combat action in the Battle of the Bulge.
Two years ago Grothman's predecessor, Rep. Tom Petri, introduced the same bill for Magellas in the House, while Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, offered the legislation the Senate. The bills were not successful.
The push by Williams to consider Kyle for the Medal of Honor has received pushback from veterans who have said the Congressman is only trying to gain fame from the move. Veterans have asked why he waited until the movie made Kyle a household name.
-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org